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Last Updated: Thursday, 13 April 2006, 22:32 GMT 23:32 UK
Hunters 'blockade' seal activists
Seal on an ice floe in the Gulf of St Lawrence
About 325,000 harp seal pups are being culled
Anti-seal hunt activists in Canada say fishermen and hunters have trapped them in their hotel in Quebec to stop them documenting a cull.

About a dozen activists and journalists say some 60 angry locals prevented them from leaving the hotel in Blanc-Sablon, on the border with Newfoundland.

Members of Humane Society International said that earlier their van had been run off the road.

About 325,000 harp seal pups will be shot or beaten in the annual cull.

The Humane Society says the event is barbaric and wants it stopped.

The Canadian government says the cull, on ice floes off the Atlantic coast, is humane and keeps the six-million harp seal population in check.

'Extremely dangerous'

Rebecca Aldworth, a spokeswoman for the Humane Society of the United States, said the situation at the hotel in Blanc-Sablon, 600km (375 miles) north-west of St John's Newfoundland, was tense.

HARP SEALS
Found in north Atlantic and Arctic oceans
Feed on fish and crustaceans and spend much of year at sea
Pups born on the ice and nursed for two weeks, after which their mothers abandon them
Can be legally hunted only once their white coats darken, at about two weeks old

"There's only two police officers out there. They could get us out of here if they wanted to, but they're refusing to take us in their police vans."

Mark Glover, from Humane Society International, said: "They've wrecked one of the vehicles we were in. It is an extremely dangerous and uncomfortable position to be in."

Ms Aldworth said a van taking journalists to the airport to catch a helicopter to document the cull was rammed and run off the road.

"When they left, they were followed by a mob and people who were pounding on the van," she said.

The journalists had to make their way back to the hotel.

The cull of 91,000 seals in the Gulf of St Lawrence was completed last week. The hunt for the remaining pups moved to Newfoundland on Wednesday.

Fishermen supplement their livelihoods with sales of seal pelts and blubber.


SEE ALSO:
Firm offers $16m to end seal cull
06 Apr 06 |  Americas
Canada 'hindering seal observers'
28 Mar 06 |  Americas
Canada hunters head for seal cull
23 Mar 06 |  Americas
McCartney calls for seal cull ban
03 Mar 06 |  Entertainment
Canada's seal hunt stokes passion
03 Apr 05 |  Americas
Country profile: Canada
07 Feb 06 |  Country profiles


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